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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Product Review...Blue Microphone's Eyeball Webcam
The Website for the product can be found >here<.

This summer my father moved out of town. His arthritis is (at best) severe, and at worse entirely incapacitating, so that emailing, or really, anything involving precision movements from his hands, is just a big, painful, hassle. One of the ways he has come to deal with this has been to embrace video chatting. It began, for him at least, as a cheap way to stay in contact with my younger sister who has moved way, way up north, and who moves around enough that it is easier to reach her through a Skype™ account, than with a phone number. And so it was that when my father moved out of town, I felt it was time that I too entered into the world of video chatting.

But, having a Mac mini (they don't come with cameras like other Macs do), I needed to find a decent camera/mic combo. Frankly, I am of the opinion that audio trumps video when it comes to usefulness; that is, rather than buy an expensive, ultra-high definition camera with "okay" sound, I would prefer to buy a decent microphone that comes with a passable camera. The main selling point of such a set up is that I have more uses for a microphone than I ever will have for a stationary video camera.

To that end, I began my search, limited, as I mentioned, to those combinations that were most Mac-friendly. I am sure if I were a more proficient Mac user, I could probably make any camera work just fine on my mac - but honestly, I am not young anymore, and I am satisfied to ride the slow-boat to Mac proficiency for now, and just buy Mac-friendly peripherals until such time as my proficiency increases enough to warrant more.

Eventually price, quality, and functionality seemed to meet together in this pleasant little condenser mic/HD camera combo. The camera is a gutsy little 1.3 MP, which, while not the Taj Mahal of camera's is by no means a slouch. The picture quality is one up from first generation cameras, and it doesn't require as much bandwidth as some of the larger camera's do. The microphone however, is more than just adequate, it is quite nice, not only for video chatting, but for recording the kind of audio one records while sitting at their computer desk. Which is again to say, that studio level clarity is pointless unless you are sitting in a sound proof booth. For an open room, where you sit on a chair in front of a computer, this microphone is way, way better than you would expect.

My experience with the product was not all rosy however.

It arrived from Amazon on Monday, and, being plug and play, I immediately plugged it in and began to play. The first thing I did was call up my dad on Skype™, but while I could see and hear him, he could only see me. After ten minutes or so of pantomime, and not knowing how to chat by text, I finally put up an image of my screen wherein I had typed out that I could see and hear him, but that my microphone wasn't working.

I then hung up and proceded to troubleshoot the situation. Perhaps I needed to do more than I had done? So I read the installation instructions - which suggested that I needed to first reboot after the drivers were detected. I hadn't, and was hopeful that a reboot would solve all - but it didn't. I rebooted, and the mic was as silent as ever. I found the place in the system preferences where one sets up the microphone levels etc., and the mic was being seen (showing up as a device) but no matter how I tried, I couldn't get it to pick up a sound.

So, being a troubleshooter in Real-Life™, I immediately wanted to determine whether the problem was hardware or software. I was beginning to have the sinking feeling that the problem was hardware, and so I wanted to verify that. The solution was to plug it into my old PC. If it worked there I would know that the problem was software, and if I got the same problem, I would know that the problem was hardware.

Well, I got the same problem.

At this point I suppose most people would pack the thing back up, and contact the manufacturer inquiring how they might get a replacement or get their money back - but I am something of a tech whisperer, in that I am not afraid to open a thing up and check to be sure that the problem isn't a loose connection. No matter how gentle the shipping process is at the point of exit and again at the point of entry, when the package is on route it is just another box to be stack, packed, shoved, and abused. So before I ship the thing back, I want to know if it isn't just suffering the unfortunate disconnecting of some peice or other.

So I open it up.

The circuit board is loose enough that when I press it, it seems to seat itself into a board beneath it. I plug it in and give it a try... Not only does it not work, the microphone no longer shows up as a device. So I lovingly and gently lift the board out of the mic to find out what is beneath it. There I see two sets of male pins, three pins to each set, on the bottom of the "top" board, which are supposed to sink neatly into two rows of "holes", the female counterparts to the pins, which are sitting atop the bottom board. It takes a few tries, but eventually I get the thing seated right - and buttabing-buttaboom, it works.

So I Skype up my dad again, and we chat for about half an hour, then I sit with my two daughters and my guitar and we record a quick song with the garageband software that came with my Mac mini. The mic picked up everything quite well, though proximity to the mic is important when you are using the mic to record instruments or vocals.

All in all (so far, i.e.: after one night of tinkery) I am satisfied with my purchase. I knew what I wanted before I set out, and having realistic expectations for the product, and what one should expect for their dollar in this area, I believe I got my money's worth, and perhaps a bit more.

I tried iChat before I went to bed (wired through Google and Jabber) but none of my contacts were online, so I went to bed.

The one nice feature that my wife especially likes, is that the camera pops out of the microphone housing, and can be popped back in when not in use. She can be a bit of a technophobe, and doesn't want people looking into our house when we aren't aware of it, so when the camera is not in use, you can "close" it, so that even if someone were able to somehow magically turn your camera on remotely, all they would see would be the lightless inside of your microphone case.

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posted by Daniel @ 12:58 PM  
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